Andre Braugher, star of Brooklyn Nine-Nine and Homicide: Life on the Street, dead at 61

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Andre Braugher, the Emmy-winning actor best known for his roles on the series Homicide: Life on the Street and Brooklyn Nine-Nine died Monday at age 61.

Braugher’s publicist Jennifer Allen confirmed his death to CBC News, saying he had died after a brief illness.

The Chicago-born and Juilliard-trained actor had his breakthrough role in 1989’s Glory, starring alongside Morgan Freeman and Denzel Washington, who won an Oscar for the film about an all-Black army regiment during the Civil War.

Despite the part, Braugher told The Associated Press in 2019 that he struggled to find work in a Hollywood where parts for African American actors were “few and far between. Period.”

But he would establish himself with the role of Det. Frank Pembleton, which he would play for seven seasons in Homicide: Life on the Street, a gritty NBC police drama based on a book by David Simon.

Simon mourned the actor’s death in a post on X, formerly known as Twitter, writing: “I’ve worked with a lot of wonderful actors. I’ll never work with one better.” 

Years later Braugher would play a very different kind of cop on a very different kind of show, shifting to comedy as Capt. Ray Holt on the Andy Samberg-starring Brooklyn Nine-Nine. It would run for eight seasons from 2013 to 2021 on Fox and NBC.

Though he’d dipped his toe into comedy in the TNT dramedy Men of a Certain Age, Brooklyn Nine-Nine still represented a major shift for Braugher, who was known for acting in dark and heavy dramas.

“I just felt as though it was an opportunity to do something strikingly different from the rest of my career,” Braugher told the AP.

“I like it because it just simply opens up my mind and forces me to think in a different way. So I think I’ve become much more sort of supple as an actor, and more open to the incredible number of possibilities of how to play a scene.”

Braugher would be nominated for four Emmy Awards during the sitcom’s run. He was nominated for a total of 11 Emmys and won twice.

Braugher won the 2006 Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Miniseries or a Movie for the mini-series Thief. In 1997, he won the Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series Emmy for his performance in Homicide: Life on the Street. (Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

Braugher’s Brooklyn Nine-Nine co-star Terry Crews was among those paying tribute to him Monday night.

“Can’t believe you’re gone so soon,” Crews said on Instagram. I’m [honoured] to have known you, laughed with you, worked with you and shared 8 glorious years watching your irreplaceable talent. This hurts.”

He added, “You showed me what a life well-lived looked like.”

Braugher most recently starred in She Said, the 2022 film about the New York Times journalists who broke the story of Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein’s years of sexually abusing women. Braugher played Times editor Dean Baquet.

His other film credits included Primal Fear and Get on the Bus, and his other TV credits included HackGideon’s Crossing and The Good Fight.

He also acted frequently on the stage, often doing Shakespeare. He won an Obie Award for playing the title role in Henry V at the New York Shakespeare Festival, where he also appeared in Measure for MeasureTwelfth Night and As You Like It.

Braugher was married for more than 30 years to his Homicide co-star Ami Brabson. He is also survived by sons Michael, Isaiah and John Wesley, his brother Charles Jennings and his mother Sally Braugher.

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